Steamboat Springs In a much anticipated matchup between two teams at the top of their respective classifications, Roaring Fork was able to outlast Steamboat, 57-49, on Friday in the opening round of the Brenda Patch Tournament.
While the Sailors lost, coach Kelly Meek said it was a game that very easily could have gone the other way.
Steamboat led for most of the first half, including 13-9 after the first quarter. Up 24-22 and holding the ball for a last shot as time dwindled in the first half, Steamboat turned the ball over, and Roaring Fork tied it up at 24 heading into the break.
"We were really playing aggress and well," Meek said, noting leading scorer Aaron Calkins picked up his third foul in the second quarter, limiting the Sailors offensively. "We got great shots all game. They just didn't go down."
In the second half, behind exchange student Matthias Weissl, Roaring Fork took advantage.
With Steamboat guard Michael Vandahl out because of a turned ankle, Weissl - who was held relatively quiet in the first half because of Vandahl - was able to make and create shots for his team.
Weissl - who led all scorers with 24 points - put his team up, 44-35, with just more than four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
Steamboat, however, was not done.
Blake Weinstein hit a 3-pointer with 1 minute, 14 seconds remaining to pull Steamboat within three at 50-47.
The Sailors then had a shot to tie it, but Weinstein was called for a traveling violation, and the Rams hit their free throws down the stretch to eventually put the Sailors away.
The turning point in the game came when Vandahl had to leave the game, Meek said. With his savvy and speed out, Weissl was able to create his own shots and penetrate, opening up the inside.
For instance, Rams 6-foot-8 post player Torrey Udall scored only three points in the first half. In the second, with Weissl able to create off the dribble, Udall poured in 15.
Still, Meek said the entire defense played well, especially Colby Kostur and Alex Wood, who each gave up at least six inches to the Rams two 6-foot-8 post players.
"Colby played really well," Meek said. "He was in a war zone in there. He and Woody played the two 6-8's really well."
Calkins led Steamboat with 21 points. Vandahl added 14 - including seven in the first quarter - while Kostur had seven and Weinstein had six.
Steamboat wraps up play at 2:30 p.m. today against Coal Ridge.
Despite the loss, Meek said Roaring Fork was a good way to start the season.
"It was great opening season game," he said. "We played well ahead of where we were at last year. We had open looks all over. They had a hard time guarding us. Had we shot like we normally do, there's a chance we blow them out in the first half."